Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I'm Still Here!

Last weekend concluded my first half of the doctrinal study I’ve been working on for over 10 years. All things considered, the study went very well. Several of those enrolled have already signed up for the next sequence in July. I’ve been teaching the same thing in my SAM’s Class (Senior Adults) and I raised a few eyebrows in my lessons on the Holy Spirit. I told them up front I had a few “Hines heresies” and would probably say a few things differently from anything they’d heard regardless of their background, including those from Restoration Movement churches. (I am, after all, an equal opportunity annoyer.)

I was a bit disappointed in the enrollments for the first sequence of the classes I offered. I tried an experiment by having classes Friday evening and Saturday morning for two weekends. It didn’t seem to work too well. It may be that too many want to head for the cooler hills on Friday and Saturday. It may also be unfamiliarity with several of the teachers. It may be that it was a break in what they were used to. All in all, I was disappointed but not discouraged. This fall, I’ll offer sessions for six weeks on a week night and I’ll still offer at least one “weekend intensive.”

For some of my readers who thought I’d have to compromise my convictions when I came here, I want you to know I have not done so. I do recognize, however, that those attending Christ's Church of the Valley come from all kinds of backgrounds. I teach with the same spirit I used in Canton, Ohio, and elsewhere. I always present doctrinal teaching derived from reason or inference, whether coming from deduction or induction, with love. I do the best I can to evidence a humble spirit while presenting firmly what I believe is biblical truth. I guess I’m just too much of a Restorationist, for I continue to hold on to Thomas Campbell’s Proposition 7 from his famous “Declaration and Address.” (If you don’t know what that says, look it up. If you have trouble understanding it, search for Knofel Staton’s paraphrase.)

It is good practice to remember “we are not the only Christians, we are Christians only.” I think A. Campbell was right when he said there were only two things required to become a Christian: 1) The belief of one essential fact and 2) the submission to one essential act. (You know what those are!) It is wise to understand there are all sorts of stupid ideas out there about a lot of things in Scripture. I’m sure you and I even possess a few of them! Item number two always seems to be a “bug bear.” Yet Carl Ketcherside used to say, “Even if others don’t know what baptism is all about, God does!” Carl is right, and our relationship with God doesn’t depend on our full understanding but our compliance to Christ’s commands. We all have different perspectives, but if we are teachable we can listen. I don’t worry too much about those who have different ideas, but I hope they are teachable and will test what I say against Scripture. After all no one answers to me; everyone answers to God. He alone is the only qualified judge.

Do I agree with everything I hear? No! But I didn’t agree with everything at Canton either. Furthermore, I didn’t agree with everything at what was then First Church of Christ in Boise (a far more conservative congregation than most) either. I do agree that Jesus is the Christ. I do agree that he put us here to make disciples, to baptize them into Christ, and to teach them to observe all things.

Nothing in my belief system has changed! There is one thing that has changed, however. I’m working harder than I have for a long time.

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